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What makes a great leader? You need 5 Qs

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Andrew Kakabadse has spent a lifetime working with senior business leaders and researching how they behave, and he’s convinced that many of our longheld beliefs and assumptions are simply out of date.

‘In a mature market, it is very difficult to measure or maintain a competitive advantage’, he says. ‘It’s a constant challenge to engage with your audiences and stakeholders, and come up with compelling propositions.’

So what attributes does a leader need in such a market? ‘I believe that it’s changed significantly during the past decade, and it’s a combination of elements I call the five Qs.

‘The need for cognitive intelligence (IQ) is well documented, and no-one would argue that a leader needs to be able to harness resources, particularly where there are multiple agendas.

‘And an advanced emotional intelligence (EQ) is clearly needed to develop teams to achieve their potential, through managing your own
emotions as well as those of others within your team.

‘But I contend that there are others. A political intelligence (PQ) is a leader’s ability to navigate a way forward through diverse stakeholders’ agendas. And a resilience quotient (RQ) is absolutely necessary to cope with the pressures imposed by today’s complex business environment. It determines how self-aware you are, and how able you are to deal with negotiations, and survive across multiple contexts.

‘Finally, I would suggest that a moral quotient (MQ) is becoming increasingly vital, taking an ethical approach to the way you lead.

‘But in many markets, especially in less developed countries, a combination of inequality and corrupt governments has seen the incidences of bribery reaching epidemic proportions, and it is increasingly difficult for middle management, in particular, to impose their emotional and moral intelligence. They are often stuck in the middle, facing an impossible task of satisfying both senior management and their clients without succumbing to a delegitimised supply chain. Ultimately, such scenarios are unsustainable, as they deliver less value.

‘These five Qs come together to inform every aspect of leadership, and each of them can, in different ways, be nurtured and practiced through
learning and development.

‘The world is constantly changing, and our model of what makes a great leader therefore has to be constantly reviewed and refined. But from what the current research is telling us, a balance of the five Qs appears to be the foundation for an effective and sustainable approach to leadership.’

Professor Andrew Kakabadse is Chairman of the Henley Directors’ Forum, Programme Director for Henley Business School’s Board Directors’ Programme and Co-Director for Data Protection Officer Programme.

Professor Andrew Kakabadse

Programme Director, The Board Directors' Programme
Published 11 April 2017

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